Hanukkah Begins at Sundown

11/27/2013 1:20 pm0 commentsViews: 28
Hanukkah MenorahLA Zoo Photo by Gary McCarthy

Hanukkah Menorah LA Zoo
Photo by Gary McCarthy

LOS ANGELES (CNS) – Hanukkah, Judaism’s eight-day “Festival of Lights”
commemorating the Maccabees’ victory over a larger Syrian army in 165 B.C.,
begins at sundown tonight.
Once the Jews defeated the Hellenist Syrian forces of Antiochus IV at
the end of a three-year rebellion, the temple in Jerusalem, which the occupiers
had dedicated to the worship of Zeus, was rededicated by Judah Maccabee, who
led the insurgency begun by his father, the high priest Mattathias.
According to the story of Hanukkah, Maccabee and his soldiers wanted to
light the temple’s ceremonial lamp with ritually pure olive oil as part of
their rededication but found only enough oil to burn for one day. The oil,
however, burned for eight days in what was held to be a miracle.
“For 2,000 years, the story of Hanukkah has given hope to not only Jews
around the world, but (it) is really a universal story for all humanity,”
Mayor Eric Garcetti, Los Angeles’ first elected Jewish mayor, said at Tuesday’s
28th annual City Hall menorah lighting ceremony,
Hanukkah — which means dedication in Hebrew — is observed around the
world by lighting candles in a special menorah called a Hanukiah each day at
sundown for eight days, with an additional candle added each day. The reason
for the lights is so passers-by should see them and be reminded of the
holiday’s miracle.
Other Hanukkah traditions include spinning a dreidel, a four-sided top,
which partially commemorates a game that Jews under Greek domination played to
camouflage their Torah study, and eating foods fried in oil, such as potato
pancakes and jelly doughnuts.
Children receive Hanukkah “gelt” (the Yiddish word for money) from
parents and grandparents. The tradition originated with 17th century Polish
Jews giving money to their children to give their teachers during Hanukkah,
which led to parents also giving children money.
In the United States, the practice has evolved into giving holiday gifts
to children and others, akin to Christmas gift-giving.
Unlike on the High Holy Days of Rosh Hashana, the Jewish new year, or
Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, observant Jews are permitted to work and
attend school during Hanukkah, the only Jewish holiday that commemorates a
military victory.

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